The Santa Ynez Tribal Health Clinic is located on the reservation of the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians, a federally recognized tribe. The reservation is located in central Santa Barbara County in the Santa Ynez Valley, separated from the coast by coastal mountains. The local area is primarily rural with vegetable and flower fields, cattle and horse ranches, vineyards and wineries. We are 15 minutes from Solvang, which is a major tourist attraction, with many restaurants, shops and hotels. The Tribe owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort and Spa in Santa Ynez, which includes a full-service hotel, health spa, several restaurants and entertainment showroom, the Hotel Corque and Root 246 restaurant in Solvang, and is working on various other enterprises.
Established in 1974, Rosa Pace, a nurse and obstetrician, who was determined to improve healthcare for the tribe’s members. In 1974, a two-bedroom trailer was located on the lower reservation and patients were seen once a week. Initially, the Clinic had no running water, and limited equipment and services. With tribal and community involvement, as well as grants from Indian Health Services (IHS), the Clinic was able to obtain the water it needed to continue providing basic health care to its tribal residents and the community, and was able to move into a newer double-wide trailer. A new medical facility was built in the mid-1990’s and in late 2002, a new state-of-the-art facility was built on the upper reservation, doubling its size and capacity. Although the Clinic is small, the services it provides are impressive: from general family care, pediatrics, nutrition counseling, and dermatology; to general dental care; to substance abuse treatment and counseling. Expanded services such as endocrinology were added in 2010.
The Clinic is a stand-alone subsidiary and their mission is to specialize in the highest standards of quality health care through modern medicine and cultural traditions. Prior to 2014, the Clinic is listed as a not-for-profit organization under the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) guidelines and received over 90% of its funding through various grants, but mainly from Indian Health Services (IHS) coordinated and managed at the federal level. Grant requirements indicate that all funding received is to be utilized for patient care and services. By the end of year 2014, the Clinic has achieved Title V Compacting, which will allow it to self-manage its grant funding sources.
The Clinic sees approximately 17,000 patient visits annually by providing medical, dental, and behavioral health services to a local population of about 2,700 patients, mainly Native Americans and low-income people of diverse ethnicity, including many Hispanic/Latino agricultural workers. Approximately 87% of this population is below the poverty level and unable to pay for services, either due to lack of insurance or lack of sufficient insurance. As a result, many patients are registered with alternative resources to cover their service fees. Another factor is that the majority of the tribal population receives services at little or no cost. The Clinic is constantly searching for funding and/or partnerships to maintain its array of programs.
The clinic offers medical and dental care and community health education activities designed to enhance health awareness and practices in the Native American Community. Home visits to tribal residents needing services, from newborns to elders, are available. Referrals to outside medical and non-medical services are provided. The Santa Ynez Tribal Health Clinic has achieved mature contractor status with the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Clinic is a certified FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) Medi-Cal/Medicare facility. We are the only health care facility offering medical, dental, and community health services to the low income population of rural Santa Barbara County.
Our patients range in age from newborn infants to children (0-12 years) 18%, teenagers (13-19) 11%, young adults (20-44) 40%, adults (45-64) 23% and older patients (65 and over) 8%. We offer comprehensive services to the indigent, uninsured, and underinsured. All income levels are accepted, from self-pay and patients with insurance, to those covered by Medi-Cal or Medicare, and those eligible for our sliding fee scale, based on their income.